Officials from the Treasury and the Department for Exiting the European Union have made contact with the City to discuss the best way to sever ties with the political bloc before the Government triggers Article 50.
Meetings have been held between the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and top business lobby groups including the British Bankers’ Association, the Confederation of British Industry, and City of London on how best to exit the European Union (EU), with officials wanting to draw up a plan of action before Article 50 is triggered, the Daily Express reported.
They have also had input from David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who has been dubbed “Minister for Brexit”.
The Department has said: “We are in the process of consulting various stakeholders, including the City of London, to ensure our approach will get the best deal for Britain.”
It has been reported that officials have discussed the issue of “passporting rights”, which allow UK-based banks to set up branches in countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). Talks have revealed a willingness among some top figures to abandon passporting, despite early calls to stay in the single market.
Mark Boleat has said: “It’s no good having a wish list that’s not realistic – that’s not what the Government wants. What it wants to know is: does Brexit mean the loss of 5pc of investment banking jobs? In which case – OK. If it means the loss of 30pc of these jobs, then what’s the implication of tax revenue? Is passporting worth fighting for?”
Mr. Boleat has cast doubt over the possibility of the UK securing a Norway-style deal to remain in the EEA, saying that accepting the free movement of people and accepting EU rules whilst paying large sums to Brussels would not be “politically acceptable”.
Anthony Browne, Chief Executive of the British Bankers’ Association, has said: “We are not calling for membership of the single market – what we want is full two-way access to EU markets.”
News of the discussions came as a survey conducted by ConservativeHome has shown that grassroots Conservative members do not think that the Norway option would not be a good deal for Britain.
A majority of those polled at 69 per cent want a deal where the UK “does not remain a single market member, and immigration is subject to full control rather than a time-limited emergency brake”. This is compared to just 26% who wanted a Norway-style arrangement with the EU.
Norway is part of the EEA, and apart from fisheries and agriculture, all other rules, including product registration and workers’ regulations, are dictated by the EU. Legislation is made in Brussels without Norway’s contribution to the decision making.
Under the European Economic Area Agreement. the Scandinavian country pays annually €391 million to 15 beneficiary states, €447 million a year to participate in certain EU schemes, and well as other smaller contributions – still in the millions of euros – to access other schemes.
In exchange, Norway has access to the single market – but must have free movement of people, an issue that swung the EU referendum vote in favour of Brexit.